Fairness and Justice: The Casey Anthony Case

December 9, 2011

Political Theory


This summer, the nation became captivated by the Casey Anthony murder trial. And when the verdict came back “not guilty,” this prompted a very shocked and angry response from Americans; so much to the point where Casey Anthony had to flee Florida and has since spent her days in seclusion from the public. While this may seem like old news to many of us, I could not help but think of this case as we were discussing Martin Luther King Jr.’s concept of fairness and justice. Was this is a fair verdict? Was justice served for Caylee Anthony? Are justice and fairness the same?

 

There were several reasons as to why people were so stunned by the not guilty verdict in this case. The prosecution tried to convince the jury that Casey Anthony was this party girl, whose odd behavior and lies were indicative of her guilt. For those of you who watched the trial on TV like I did, I was pretty convinced she did it. The pictures of her partying and getting a tattoo saying: “Bella Vita,” or the “Beautiful Life” right after her daughter disappeared seemed completely inappropriate. Not to mention other crucial factors, like the fact that she did not report her daughter missing until a month after it actually occurred and that she lied about a nanny kidnapping Caylee. Additionally, “how to make chloroform” and “how to break a neck” showed up in her Internet search engines, and her parents had indicated that the truck of Casey’s car had smelled like a dead body.

 

However, for the jury, this evidence was not compelling enough. Jose Baez, the defense attorney for Casey Anthony, maintained that his client was innocent because there was not enough evidence to prove that she did it. In the end, he was right. After the not-guilty verdict was revealed, the jury went on to say that the prosecution relied too heavily on Anthony’s poor moral character as evidence for the crime, when they should have concentrated on the physical and forensic evidence. However, the verdict created an enormous backlash from the public that has sent Casey Anthony and her family into hiding.

 

In class, we have discussed MLK Jr’s thoughts on fairness, law and justice. For MLK, justice and fairness go hand-in-hand, as he indicated in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” According to Dr. King, “this is sameness made legal,” meaning he believed that just laws apply to everyone; no one is an exception. Under these terms, it would seem that the outcome of the Anthony case was just. Under US law, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and one must be proven guilty without a reasonable doubt. It could be said that the jury in this case held these laws to the highest standard, because they could have easily been swayed by the case that the prosecution presented about her bizarre and unethical behavior. However, the verdict in this case was reached in a just manner: Casey Anthony was no exception to the idea of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” and in the end, no one could physically prove that Anthony committed murder.

 

But, was this a just outcome? Many would say no because no justice was served for Caylee Anthony; her killer could still be on the loose, or Casey Anthony got away with murder. Was this a fair outcome? Once again, a lot of people would say no because of the odd behavior and web of lies that Anthony got herself caught in. While MLK believes that justice and fairness complement each other, I do not think they do in this specific case. While I do not personally agree with the verdict, I believe that this was a fair trial. After all, the jury did its job properly and did not convict Anthony because there was not enough forensic evidence to find her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a fair trial and fair outcome, and no one in this country is, or should be, an exception to this. However, I do not think justice was served in this case. It may be just if we truly believe MLK’s definition of the term, in that justice existed because Anthony was subjected to fair treatment under the law. But is that really justice? Caylee Anthony was murdered and not to be a “Negative Nancy,” but I doubt her killer will ever come forward or be found.

 

This evaluation brings up several questions that I would be interested to hear other student’s feedback. Do you believe justice was served in this case? Was this a fair outcome, or did Casey Anthony get away with murder? Do you believe MLK’s definition of justice applies in this case? Are justice and fairness the same thing?

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2 Comments on “Fairness and Justice: The Casey Anthony Case”

  1. jordanwylie Says:

    I also agree with you. This was not a fair case, especially with respect to Caylee Anthony. However, there are many trials that are not fair, specifically the OJ Simpson case. I don’t know if I believe Casey Anthony got away with murder. There just weren’t enough facts to prove she did it. However, I do believe she is not completely innocent. I think she was someway involved with the disappearance of her daughter. She may not have physically done it but her stories just do not make sense. Sadly, I also agree that this was a fair trial. A fair trial does not always mean that the right person gets convicted but rather everyone was treated equally. I don’t think MLK’s definition of justice can be applied to this case, or any case really. There will always be someone who believes the wrong person was convicted and justice was not served. Justice and fairness can never be completely satisfied in terms of a court case. If majority of people agree that justice was served than the case may not have been fairly carried out and the jury may have give verdicts based on emotions rather than evidence, however, if the case was carried out fairly than justice probably won’t be served. Justice and fairness definitely are not interchangeable. Justice just means that everyone was treated equally throughout the trial without prejudice. Fairness has the connotation that the right person was convicted despite what the evidence says.

  2. djavolio8 Says:

    I think the trial of Casey Anthony was a turning point for the American judicial system. While I personally think the evidence against her was overwhelming, none of us were in the courtroom and therefore all have perceptions influenced by the media about what happened to Caylee Anthony. If you think I’m wrong watch this video on the OJ trial and then tell me if you think you had all the facts.
    http://www.bloghamptonblu.com/2009/11/video-jason-simpson-theory-is-oj.html
    But as far as MLK and his definition go, I agree with jordanwylie in that I don’t believe it can be applied to this case. I find that justice shouldn’t have a set definition as I believe different situations call for different outcomes, and having one permanent definition of justice would hinder the ability for every situation to be brought to an appropriate conclusion. Casey Anthony went through a legal process just as OJ Simpson, Scott Peterson, and Amanda Knox did. It is not the legal process of seeking justice that people view as unjust, but rather the outcome of that legal process. The court of public opinion needs to be set aside, and the people need to put some trust into the legal systems that are in place around the world.

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